In 2012, Ramarley Graham, an 18-year-old black teenager, was fatally shot in his own home by a white New York City police officer, Richard Haste. Haste and other officers had followed Graham home from a nearby bodega and forced their way in, later saying that they believed Graham was carrying a gun. Graham was, in fact, unarmed.
As people protested around the country in response to the death of George Floyd, the nation has seen video after video of police tear gassing, shoving, and shooting at protestors. At massive protests in New York, a police van drove through a protest, and one officer even pulled a handgun on protestors in Manhattan’s Union Square.
The chant was hard to decipher through a bullhorn on a Tribeca street Sunday night, all the more so because the message was a bit unfamiliar. But, listen to the video posted online enough times, and you can make out what the protester was yelling: “Fuck the PBA!”
At some point, history may show us that after years of aggression, after so much brutality that suggested so little fear of consequence, it took the looting of Chanel and the reversion of SoHo to a wasteland to disable a law that has made real police accountability so difficult in New York City. It required a political class moved by fear — of disorder and desecration — rather than compelled by the logic of justice, which had been obvious for so long.
As protests over the killing of George Floyd continue across the country, momentum in New York to repeal a decades-old police transparency law appears to be gaining steam, according to activists and legislators involved in the effort, in what they say would be a major step forward in the fight for police reform.
As the mass uprisings across the country continue, protestors and advocates are trying to hold public officials accountable for making real reforms.